The heat of the desert provides a great environment for automakers to test their newest powertrains in extreme conditions, and our spy photographer caught these Dodge Challenger Hellcat prototypes doing just that. The prototype cars are accompanied by standard Dodge Challenger coupes, but the presence of camouflage, test boxes, different wheels, and unusual exhausts signals that several of the cars seen here are Hellcat testers.
The Dodge Challenger is widely expected to add a new "Hellcat" engine that will match up to the potent Ford Shelby GT500 and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. It will likely be a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 producing around 600 hp -- up 130 hp from the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 in the current Dodge Challenger SRT8. We're told the new Hellcat mill is lighter and more compact than the 640-hp V-10 engine from the SRT Viper, and that it will be backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Dodge Challenger is currently offered with a 305-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 engine; a 375-hp, 5.7-liter V-8; and a 470-hp, 6.4-liter V-8.
We were already expecting that Chrysler would refresh its LX/LY-platform cars -- the Charger, 300, and Challenger -- while an all-new version of the Dodge Challenger would arrive for 2015. The Hellcat engine could be the headlining feature of the new Challenger, allowing it to stack up horsepower-wise against its Ford and Chevrolet rivals. Few changes are visible on these test cars, aside from the new exhausts and wheels, but we believe the front air intakes will be enlarged to allow the Hellcat engine to breathe (and stay cool) more effectively.
The Dodge Challenger is expected to debut with the Hellcat engine next year as a 2015 model.